Our fast-food diet, with all those processed chemicals and hardly any nutrients, are throwing off our bodies’ feel-good chemistry. Studies show that eating the wrong foods can add to our daily stress and make us feel anxious, lethargic, and downright grouchy. In addition, a diet that deprives our brains of much-needed “happy” nutrients also makes us fat. When we are stressed, we are more likely to go for high-calorie junk foods that pack on the pounds and fuel a never-ending unhappiness cycle. There is an easy, drug-free way to boost your spirits and shrink your belly: brain food. Feeding your brain the right nutrients is all you need to do to improve your mood, boost your energy, and keep your hands out of the chip bag.
The following 11 foods will help you looking and feeling your best, lose weight without ever dieting again, and boost your mood naturally:
1. Grass-Fed Beef – from animals raised on grass pastures. Their meat boasts much higher levels of healthy linoleic acid (or CLA), a “happy” fat that combats stress hormones and blasts belly fat. Grass-fed beef has a lower overall fat count and contains higher levels of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Lamb is another great grass-fed option, packed with iron, a nutrient vital for a stable mood. Did you know that areas of the brain related to mood and memory contain the highest iron concentrations?
2. Swiss Chard – is packed with magnesium, an essential nutrient for the biochemical reactions in the brain that increase energy levels. Studies found that higher magnesium intake was associated with lower depression scores. Swiss chard isn’t the only way to get your magnesium. Spinach, soybeans, and halibut also contain healthy doses of this important, energy-enhancing nutrient.
3. Dark Chocolate – the delicious taste isn’t the only reason it makes you feel so good. The cocoa treat also gives an instant boost in mood and concentration. It improves blood flow to your brain, helping you feel more vibrant and energized. But sorry, candy bars don’t count. Cocoa is the good ingredient, so pure dark chocolate, at least 70 %, is best if you want just the mood-boosting benefits not the extra belly flab. Studies found that a few ounces of dark chocolate a day is all you need to reap the benefits, so don’t over do it.
4. Blue Potatoes – get their color from anthocyanins, powerful antioxidants that provide neuro-protective benefits, bolstering short-term memory and reducing mood-killing inflammation. The skins are loaded with iodine, an essential nutrient that helps regulate your thyroid. Since blue potatoes are not an item every grocery store carries here are other anthocyanin-rich foods: berries, eggplant, and black beans.
5. Mussels – are loaded with vitamin B12—a nutrient that most of us are lacking. B12 helps insulate your brain cells, keeping your brain sharp as you age. Mussels also contain zinc, iodine, and selenium, which keep your mood-regulating thyroid on track. In addition, mussels are high in protein and low in fat and calories, making them one of the healthiest, most nutrient-dense seafood options available.
6. Asparagus – is one of the top plant-based sources of tryptophan, a basis for the creation of serotonin, one of the brain’s primary mood-regulating neurotransmitters. Asparagus also has high levels of folate, a nutrient that may fight depression. Studies show that up to 50 percent of people with depression suffer from low folate levels. Other great sources of tryptophan are: turkey, tuna, and eggs.
7. Greek Yoghurt – is packed with more calcium than found in milk or regular yogurt. Calcium alerts your brain to release feel-good neurotransmitters. Calcium deficiency can lead to anxiety, depression, irritability, impaired memory, and slow thinking. Greek yogurt also contains more protein than regular yogurt, making it a great stay-slim snack that’s also very tasty.
8. Honey – is packed with beneficial compounds like quercetin and kaempferol. These compounds reduce inflammation, keeping your brain healthy and warding off depression. Honey has a lower impact on your blood-sugar levels than regular sugar. It won’t send your body into fat-storage mode the way white sugar can. Keep in mind, honey has about 64 calories per tablespoon, so use in moderation.
9. Eggs – are loaded with mood-promoting omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, B vitamins, and iodide. They are also packed with protein, so they’ll keep you full and energized for a long time. Studies found that people who ate two eggs for breakfast lost significantly more weight than those who ate a bagel.
10. Coconut – is full of medium-chain triglycerides, fats that keep your brain healthy and fuel better moods. Try to stay away from the high calorie desserts. Instead, throw some unsweetened coconut shavings in your oatmeal or yogurt, or toss some in your next healthy smoothie for a flavor boost. That will keep you smiling and skinny.
11. Tomatoes – are a great source of lycopene, an antioxidant that protects your brain and fights depression-causing inflammation. Lycopene lives in tomato skins, so don’t peel them. Instead, enjoy them in your salad with a little olive oil, which has been shown to increase lycopene absorption. Try to go organic when possible. Studies show that organic tomatoes have higher lycopene levels.